May 27, 2013

I'm financially savvy, so why are we overpaying for our wireless unlimited plan?

Just so you know, I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  I was recently asked to check out unlimited plans for wireless to see if I could find a cheap wireless plan that would work for my family.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and their client. #FamilyMobileSaves

We are not a super frugal family, but generally speaking I'm pretty on top of things when it comes to finances.  I don't really use coupons that much but we make sure we have the best mortgage rate possible and I am "price aware" when it comes to most things.  Ordering a playhouse?  I'll online price compare it to death.

Mommy Testers #FamilyMobileSaves #cbias trying out Walmart FamilyMobile  unlimited wireless service

So it was pretty shocking to me when I realized that there was one aspect of our monthly bills I've been ignoring and it's probably costing us a lot of money each month that could go renovating our back yard which is something Craig has been dying to do for quite some time.  With Father's Day on the way I know he has visions of himself at a nice built in BBQ watching his outdoor TV while Kayla splashes around in the pool.

Sadly for Craig, we're not quite there.  We do have the awesome pool that goes with California living, and a really nice sized yard that is atypical of our neighborhood where land is crazy expensive and scarce.  We have been saving for a backyard renovation but it's still going to be a while until we've got enough saved to take on a project like that.  It's not going to happen this Father's Day, but if we make a couple of easy changes I do think it's a possibility for next Father's Day.

You see, we have Sprint.  Sprint's service has always worked well here in San Diego - until recently.  Craig started noticing that his S3 phone was dropping calls and just not working as well as it always had been.  I also noticed that my iPhone 4S was dropping some calls too and just getting less bars of reception as it had in the past.   It got so bad that Sprint actually sent us this extra antenna like device to plug in at our house to improve the service.  Weird, I know.  So I decided I would start looking into other wireless options.

I almost did a double take when I looked at our last bill which I never pay much attention to because they are on autopay.  $194.31 for the month on our unlimited plan!  WHAT?   I consider my cell phone a non negotiable and always worth the money for how much I use it for work and socializing, but really?  I'm pretty sure there are some cars you can lease for less than we're paying for wireless service!

At the risk of sounding like a snob I'm going to come out and say that I've seen those no contract  wireless plans and always thought they were overpriced with lots of fees and for people who didn't have good credit and therefore didn't have another way to get a cell phone.  However, these days I see a shift in the mobile marketplace and it seems like there are now lots of unlimited plans out there with more options that offer unlimited plans at reasonable prices with access to really nice high end phones.

Mommy Testers #FamilyMobileSaves #cbias  trying out Walmart FamilyMobile  unlimited wireless service

So I'll eat my former silly thoughts on those plans because recently I decided that we were going to try out a new plan to see if one of those no contract plans could really work for our family. Walmart now offers their Walmart Family Mobile plan which is $40 for the first line and $35 for each additional line for the month.  

Now you do the math on that - $75 versus $194.  At first I thought NO WAY.  That can't possibly work for us because it's so cheap there must be a hitch to it.  I bet we couldn't use our nice phones on it.  Wrong.  We totally can.  So then I thought I bet the data plan stinks and we'll have to pay insane overages on that which will close the gap on the savings.  Wrong again!

Mommy Testers #FamilyMobileSaves trying out Walmart FamilyMobile  unlimited wireless service

I use way more data on my phone than Craig does so I decided to check my usage.  I've had this phone for 16 months.  In that period of time I've used 8.7GB of data.  The Walmart Family Mobile plan offers 1GB of high speed data per month for their plan shared amongst the different users.  You have unlimited data overall, but it's just the high speed that is capped.  You do get an option to purchase additional gigs of the high speed data allowance at about $10 per GB.  We're used to all high speed all the time, so that is what my preference would be.  So would we need to purchase additional gigs?

I don't even think we'd need it!  Which is kind of crazy because I found myself sitting at my computer running the numbers and realizing we could literally have what we already have in our plan and save 60% on our bill.  I'm not a girl who is motivated at all by a save $.35 on a package of cheese coupon, but this is what I consider real money, significant amounts and I definitely do care about saving this much!

Mommy Testers #FamilyMobileSaves trying out Walmart FamilyMobile  unlimited wireless service

So when I was sent this T-Mobile Concord phone to test out the service and see what I thought I knew we'd never realistically use a phone like this since it's not as high tech as what we're used to, but I had a great idea for what to do with it since Father's Day was quickly approaching.  I added the starter kit to it that you can purchase for $25 at Walmart and was ready to go.

Quite frankly I've never seen cell phone activation so easy.  I associate it with annoying amounts of paperwork and a long wait at the carrier's store. This activation you can do at home by yourself.  You're walked through the process step by step and it took me less than 5 minutes to activate this phone and set up an account.  Seriously, it's foolproof and you're given the option to choose the local area code you desire if setting up a new number, which I really like.

Mommy Testers #FamilyMobileSaves trying out Walmart FamilyMobile  unlimited wireless service

So for a little while Craig and I will use this phone to check out the Walmart Family Mobile plan and then donate it to Cell Phones for Soldiers.  If you haven't heard of this awesome charity, they take used cell phones and recycle them to provide cost free communication services for active duty military and veterans.

And of course I'll be reporting back to you to let you know how it goes and see if this service is truly the solution to our wireless problems and perhaps a way to get Craig to that backyard makeover much sooner. I mean if I can keep myself off of that is...
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